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In February 2020, on the eve of the pandemic, colleagues were engaged to deliver a workable product concept for what would eventually become the NHS contact tracing app.
Central government
Policy areas
  • Health
  • User research
  • Service design
  • Design
  • Technology
Point of contact
Jaye HackettFounding partner

Working from the NHS building in Elephant and Castle, we rapidly came up with the now-familiar proposition of privacy-preserving, Bluetooth-based contact tracing. We proved the concept with a field test of a prototype app on the London Underground.

Our early user research found that people were willing to click “agree” on anything the app asked, on the grounds that they trust the NHS. The ethical issues of balancing individual privacy with community benefit were clear to us. We advocated for bringing in experts on trust, data and privacy to advise the project, and despite the incredible time pressures, we were able to do so.

Government services are usually fairly static and unchanging, so we invented and tested new design patterns to help users understand exactly what the app was doing, and how, in real time.

Our rapid prototyping and visual communication work meant that important stakeholders could quickly converge on a common understanding, and we presented our work to meetings of senior NHS and government figures.

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